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I dated a man that was prettier then I was, and he took it upon himself to tell me everyday for three years. He also enjoyed telling me nobody else wanted me, that I was lucky to find him (as if he was doing charity work for dating me), and that I would be alone in life forever if I did not stay by his side with my mouth shut for the rest of my life.

I felt smaller then the tiniest grain of dirt. My self-esteem and self-worth out the window. I was worthless without him. He signified my worth and my inner bank balance was $0.

When I cooked him homemade meals to prove I would make an excellent wife, he scraped half of my portion off telling me I was too fat. Who could ever imagine a size 0 being too fat? When he came home from Rome (where he is from) telling me on New Years they kiss their friends on the lips (I found a photo of him kissing a friend), I believed him (really Aimee, frenchkissing?). When he went to school in Milan for 6 months and I paid all of his bills in the U.S.A, and made all of his phone calls, and held down the fort, I trusted he was doing right by me. When I found proof of his lying, snake ways, he talked himself out of it and made me believe I was making it up in my head. I was the crazy one.

This is abuse. Abuse people never speak of, or think does “real damage”. Verbal abuse certainly does damage, and a lot of it.

We broke up on 9/10/01, just a day before the attacks on 9/11/01. I had just moved to Boston to try and regain some self strength, and he just started a new job at the World Trade Center. When the postman at my new job told me the news I freaked out. I frantically called him for hours, and I began to think the worst. He did call hours later telling me he was alright. He ran out as bodies fell from the tower windows, and jumped over body parts, office supplies, and the pavement soaked in jet fuel. He ran 8 miles as fast as he could without stopping because he thought he would lose his life if he hadn’t. Sadly so many made it out of the building that day, but stayed to “watch” and didn’t make it any further.

In our relief, we rekindled our relationship. I had high hopes this moment had changed him – that since God had let him live and gave him a second shot at it, he would find it within himself to be a better man.

I stood beside him a week later at Ground Zero holding his hand. We wept. The heavy smell of death encircled us and permeating all of our being. The city was in silence. All you could hear were machines cutting steel trying to find bodies. The hospital close by had a wall of “missing” posters filled with people that were now part of the largest burial ground in American history. He wondered why he survived and why they didn’t.

We broke up a year later when he told me about his girlfriend in Italy and the prostitutes he had slept with. I cut all ties and moved on with my life. A few years ago I got an odd e-mail from his new girlfriend asking me questions in broken English. He wrote me and said, and I quote, “If you ever cared about me and 9/11 you won’t tell her anything”.

Yes, he was trying to use 9/11 to shut me up. A day that he should have gained perspective and feel blessed, he was using to hide behind as a last attempt shield to not let his new girlfriend find out about his cheating, abusive ways. I was disgusted, and copy and pasted his e-mail and sent it right to her. I also told her every little bit I could about my past with him.

How could he go on to take this day as “his”? How can he accept emails today that say “thinking of you” or “this day must be so hard for you” and still go on unscathed. Why must I remember such an asshole who didn’t really deserve a second chance over so many good hearted people that died that day. Why did I accept his abuse for so long, and let him be all of who I am? And why must such a significant day always be about him?

I am pissed. He doesn’t deserve the day.

He once asked if I would light a candle in honor of him every year on this day for the rest of my life. I will do one better for you babe–I’ll light up a finger in the air, and you can see it all the way to Rome. Plus I will eat an entire plate of pasta in my size 14 jeans, and sit on the floor and eat up the love I have with my family. My family I created with a wonderful, loving, non-abusive man, that believes I am wonderful just the way I am.

I will always mourn that day, the people who lost their lives, and will never forget seeing and feeling the aftermath. I will always grieve for NYC, a place that will always have my heart and that will never be the same.

And for that…. I will never forget. For that, and only that, I will light a candle.